Mao

The First Emperor

December 11, 2010
Screen shot 2011-07-24 at 10.36.52 PM

For two thousand years the safest place for China’s cultural heritage has been underground. The Chinese may be proud of having the world’s oldest civilisation but they have also been the greatest destroyers and iconoclasts. In China the present has frequently been at war with the past, as the ruler of the day attempted to … More


Shen Jiawei: From Mao to Now

November 13, 2010
Shen Jiawei, Standing Guard for our Great Motherland, 1974

It’s a sign of our ignorance about China that the term “Cultural Revolution” is used so promiscuously in the mass media. Art exhibitions, fashion shows, almost anything may be described by this catchphrase, which obviously seems ‘cool’ to a lot of people. But as Mao Zedong famously said: “a revolution is not a tea party.” … More


Shen Jiawei: the Art of Politics

August 1, 2010

Shen Jiawei became an artist during the Cultural Revolution, making his first major works in the service of the state, embodied in the figure of the Great Helmsman, Mao Zedong. For roughly a decade, from 1966 onwards, every aspect of daily life in China was politicised in a way that seems to defy logic. It … More


Ai Weiwei

May 22, 2008

Ai Weiwei has spent the past decade swimming against a tide that now looks more like a tsunami. Born in 1957, he spent his youth in the remote province of Xingjian, where his father, the poet Ai Qing, had been sent for re-education. The family was not allowed to return to Beijing until 1975, when … More


Hu Ming

July 1, 2007

“In order to build a great socialist society,” wrote Mao, in his little red book, “it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity.” If we consider the erotic overtones of the English word “arouse”, Chairman Mao’s vision of women’s role sets the scene for Hu … More


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